Woolston Eyes 06.11.18

Overcast with some bright periods thrown in

The newly completed flood defence system installed on Weir Lane had its first test when a flood of people washed up on its embankment taking up every available berth. Indeed, as the energy and enthusiasm for the Woolston Eyes autumnal visit cascaded from all attendees there was almost a moment when a breach might have occurred in these defences, but the design held up to its desired specifications accommodating Team Tuesday’s swollen ranks … just!

Then once all had steadied themselves, from the rush of greetings, coupled with a swift debrief, we checked that our day-list recorder had scribed the first half dozen species onto her notepad before we checked out the becalmed waters of the Mersey … observations being made from a ‘reet- plush’ looking quayside, which held a nod to the past with some of the old masonry still in place from when the Runcorn and Latchford Canal carried cargo to this part of the Mersey.  Tufted Duck, Mute Swan and the expected Mallard were noted along with a rather active Little Grebe, which gave but brief views before it popped beneath the ‘waves’ to grab yet another fish for its breakfast (in truth this was closer to elevenses time, but to have said this at this moment in the day might have brought a halt to our progress over to number three bed). The basin held a couple of Gadwall, and as we marched away from this area a Cetti’s Warbler using its inbuilt megaphone offered the usual refrain to our patient ears …’don’t even try to see me with your fancy optics ….. for I am the Scarlet Pimpernel of the bird world’ …we tried ….. we failed … we moved on.

Cormorant were easier to see as long as a vantage point along the bank of number two bed could be gained and soon we added a couple of flyover ticks to the list, with a small flock of Starling, a few Redwing and an obliging couple of Skylark, which although flying quite high gave themselves away by their contact calls.

Views from the footbridge over to number three bed then gave Teal, Coot and a skulking Grey Heron and all were duly logged before we gained the south scaffolding hide from which, with a touch of judicious shepherding, all managed clear views of winter plumaged Black Tailed Godwits before we trod into the centre of the bed. Greenfinch, Goldfinch and the odd Blackbird slowed our progress, but not for long as Kit-Kat wrappers and other such snacks were being tentatively tweaked as break time was upon us … and where best to enjoy this than in the comfort of the Morgan Hide.

Settled in, coffee poured, snacks enthusiastically devoured, yes it was a brief moment or two when ‘Engine-Birdwatching’ could idle for a while before it was moved into …well no more than second gear for there was no need to race because all that lay before us were species already noted –  thus we could simply enjoy the view and enjoy the moment. A Kestrel did oblige in giving excellent views as it invited us to admire it, in what of late has been its larder of ease without that tiresome need to hover, as it instead took advantage of the plentiful supply of perches from which to launch its feeding forays.

At last, it was time to ‘make the rounds’ of the bed with the winter seed crop area being our main port of call, but on this day there was little to be noted as it seems an army of Pheasant have of late stripped the ground of fallen seed, but empty handed we were not for we managed to connect with a few obliging Reed Bunting before we started the slow retreat. The footbridge ‘Billy Gruff like’ decided we must not pass until we had taken in the peerless, if understated, beauty of a female Pintail, which as befitting a bird of such refined features kept herself very much to herself … glimpses shall we say were finally gained by all … and we were then allowed to pass.

A Great Crested Grebe in icy winter plumage made an effort to be seen by a few of the Team allowing one more for our tally, which no doubt looked quite healthy by now, but as with all these wandering with TT the mindfulness Clapometer (with thanks to Hughie Green!) once more registered a decibel level the H&S executive might advise was once more at a level above the recommended safety limit … another successful jaunt then! (DS)

Bird List (MHa)

  1. Coal tit
  2. Blue tit
  3. Great tit
  4. Long-tailed tit
  5. Wren
  6. House sparrow
  7. Blackbird
  8. Collared dove
  9. Tufted duck
  10. Little grebe
  11. Mallard
  12. Black-headed gull
  13. Mute swan
  14. Coot
  15. Moorhen
  16. Canada goose
  17. Lesser black-backed gull
  18. Gadwall
  19. Cetti’s warbler (heard)
  20. Cormorant
  21. Dunnock
  22. Redwing
  23. Grey heron
  24. Shoveler
  25. Teal
  26. Pied wagtail
  27. Black-tailed godwit
  28. Lapwing
  29. Kestrel
  30. Feral pigeon
  31. Goldfinch
  32. Greenfinch
  33. Common buzzard
  34. Magpie
  35. Chaffinch
  36. Reed bunting
  37. Carrion crow
  38. Pintail (F)
  39. Robin
  40. Kingfisher
  41. Great-crested grebe

(Photos DS)

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